nativity

Christmas bulb

Chief among the uses of enchantment is catechesis. The truth of that is made plain in Priscilla Smith McCaffrey’s Christmas Blossoms, a short story steeped in the mystery of the Incarnation. Suitable for all seasons, the protagonist’s deepening entrancement with the Nativity story resonates most sweetly at Christmastide. Viewed from the vantage point of structure and intention, the narrative moves within the atmosphere of what might be called a Catholic fairy tale. Historically such tales were written for all ages, adults no less than children. Continue Reading
Christmastide

We are still in Christmastide. The liturgical season extends past the Epiphany to commemoration of Jesus’ baptism by John in the Jordan. This year, that takes us to January 9, 2017. Christmas remains with us until then. It is easier for me to talk about Christmas when the day itself—the gaiety, feasting, gift-giving—is done. Christians are an Easter people, not a Christmas one. Christianity is an Easter faith, one that recognizes the splendor of the Nativity only in the light of the Resurrection. Continue Reading
The Cherry Tree Carol

Titian. Madonna of the Cherries (c. 1515). Kunsthistorsches Museum, Vienna The Cherry Tree Carol is a seasonal jewel. It dates back to the cycle of mystery plays performed in Coventry during the Feast of Corpus Christi, around the year 1400. History has brought to life various renditions of it, all of them indebted to the vagaries of memory, an era’s substitution of newer phrasings for antiquated ones, or simply the preferences of singers. Folklorists, liturgists and musicologists agree that it is really more accurate to speak of a Cherry Tree series than of a single carol. Continue Reading